For some time, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has warned that hearing loss in the United States could rise significantly due to the misuse of personal audio technology. Unfortunately, a recent report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation cites some alarming trends about excessive entertainment media consumption among our nation's children, indirectly supporting ASHA's concerns.
According to the study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2004, children were reported as being exposed to 6 hours and 21 minutes of media (TV, music, internet, etc) per day. By 2009, this number had increased dramatically to 7 hours and 38 minutes per day—10 hours and 45 minutes when media multitasking is taken into account. This massive consumption of media has led to decreased grades in school, and ASHA contends that it puts kids at increased risk of hearing loss.
It's likely that many children have an mp3 player, gaming device, cell phone, laptop, or host of other devices he or she can use with headphones. The problem is that kids often don't know how to use audio technology safely and can harm their hearing as a result. In fact, hearing loss among the young is reported to be on the rise and there are strong concerns that a generation of young people is being raised on technology who could end up with prevalent hearing loss.
"This should be a warning to parents that they must regulate children's exposure and fully understand the potential health threats associated with misuse and over exposure to such technologies," ASHA President Tommie L. Robinson, Jr., PhD, CCC-SLP explains. "Hearing loss isn't visible and it can be hard for parents to detect—nonetheless it can have a profound and costly impact on educational and social development," Robinson adds.
One thing that is clear from the study is that parents can be very positive influencers on how their children use entertainment media.
Meantime, here are two ways to protect your children's—and your own—hearing:
- Keep the volume down. A good guide is half volume.
- Limit listening time. Give your hearing 'quiet breaks'.
You can find the latest information (and address questions to ASHA experts) on hearing loss prevention in kids by following ASHA on Twitter @ashahelps and Facebook.
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 135,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders.